Is the old guard in the way of progress in Santa Monica?. Courtesy image

SO MANY CLOCKS TICKING

Climate change, economy, education, safety, health care, hunger, homelessness, democracy, crime, inequalities of race – gender – income – justice – sexual orientation. I Can’t Breathe. The planet, the nation, Santa Monica.

Dang, do all the bills have to come due at once? George Floyd says yes, they are too long past due, and hundreds of thousands of us have been marching in agreement. But start with the longest running, most lethal, shameful, nationally debilitating ones. Slavery and “the Redskins” (still, in 2020?!) are America’s original sins, our founding fatal flaws, and redemption time is here. 400 years since Plymouth Rock and the genocidal march west, 401 since the first slave ship. Time’s up.

Let’s do our part here to address the brutality, from police misconduct, from pandemic on the reservations. Not sure what we can do about the latter — moral support, solidarity, raising our official voice to Washington, at least. Has anyone suggested it? Santa Monica is built on the ancient lands of indigenous people, the Tongva; let’s always keep that debt high in our consciousness.

OUR POLICE DEPARTMENT

Like all of them, needs radical restructuring, and I’m sure there are more than a handful of smart, informed, experienced, civic-minded residents who could do that job. But our City Council has decided, true to their habit, to throw money, another six figures toward outside consultants who will study the situation and report back. (“Analyses by independent professionals with expertise about the subject matter under investigation are an effective tool to help the city do better in the future,” intoned Council member Sue Himmelrich. Gag me. “Effective”? “Do better in the future”?)

Stop it! Business as usual doesn’t work any more. Never did, really. Why didn’t they immediately at least adopt the 8 Can’t Wait platform? Mayor McKeown made a motion but what has happened in the five weeks since? I guess that’s why they call it a “motion.”

Other cities just acted, boom. What do you have to study to decide to ban chokeholds and shooting at moving vehicles, to exhaust all alternatives before shooting, and require a warning? I know that some in the Black Lives Matter movement say it’s not enough and it isn’t, but having such basic rules in place, for starters, seems better than not having them. But we can’t even do that.

We can heal if we do the right thing, America can become that venerated democracy we’ve been in the world’s eyes (but in theory only) for 244 years, and this is probably our last chance. A “blessing” of the pandemic.

LOAD OF HOOEY

Santa Monica’s politicians have for years puffed up their chests as guardians of our vaunted reputation as that small but famous city on the California coast that leads the world for its progressiveness, diversity, inclusiveness, innovation. But we who live here know that’s a load of hooey. Belmar Triangle, Pico Neighborhood, the 10 Freeway, the Inkwell, and in 2020, in excess of $10,000,000 of our taxpayer money spent to fight to overturn a court ruling that said our at-large voting system discriminates against minorities.

We can actually now become the city that serves its residents, without worrying about reputation, image, or politicians’ resumes. But we need a new crew. The folks who dug us into this hole thinking that was the direction of progress, are not the ones to dig us out.

Our multiple crises are in fact a rare opportunity. To rethink, radically. Restructure. We’re really broke now, and economically shut down. But we act as though we still have all the time in the world. We do not. This moment is already being lost, to the drumbeat of business as usual.

That may seem reasonable, but at this point, with all that’s happened, it isn’t. It’s a tactic. That’s what people say who want it all back to the way it was before, when they had the power and influence and its financial rewards. Well, a lot of us here did not like the way it was before.

SOME FOOL THEMSELVES

And deny there’s racial or any other kind of inequality, they disregard the medical science of a pandemic, they do not believe that our democracy has nearly slipped from our hands. Our pandemic of stupidity.

I’m tired of trying to convince them. They’re a delusional, very vocal minority and they’re killing us. Literally. Nearly 150,000 US dead and climbing like a SpaceX rocket. We’re pushed into a corner and the building’s on fire. Recognize the reality in front of you, city leaders, and act. We need bold new vision. I’m not seeing it.

WEAR A MASK!!

I’m so sick of having to even think that. In my experience in Ocean Park, ⅔ do not. Hello, SMPD? It’s the law, right? City Council, why not hire a small army of citation writers, give a desperately needed income to our out-of-work residents, generate a ton of money for our ailing city treasury from dangerous scofflaws, and watch compliance soar? You were pretty quick and thorough handing out an avalanche of $73 tickets on windshields last week as street sweeping was brought back. Some complained there wasn’t adequate notice. You could have handed out warnings.

The illegal fireworks barrage is STILL continuing, almost a month now. People hate it and are complaining a lot. Quality of life in Santa Monica. Is there an easier criminal to catch in the act, lighting up their lawbreaking? SM has a reputation for not enforcing our laws, and so of course we attract lawbreakers. And then there was May 31.

Why, 60,000 recall signatures later, leaving town when she knew the looters were coming, admitting one day she knew and then denying it the next, does Police Chief Renaud still have her job? You saw it on TV. Do you need another study? Why didn’t the City Council, within the week, ask her to resign or be fired? Do we only make decisions here based on the fear of a lawsuit?

The City Council is equally responsible for May 31, our day of infamy. The buck stops there. They did not, all seven, conference with the chief to make sure plans were in place to protect us. And so 120 local businesses were savaged. There is absolutely no excuse for that, and they all should have resigned over that epic failure. But no. Business as usual.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com